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  Teeing Up Tonight's Point Guard Matchup

Feb. 27, 2011, 3:23 PM

In Friday’s edition, I talked about the fantastic season that Steve Nash is having for the Phoenix Suns. Well, in Toronto, Jose Calderon is one of the few veterans on a very young Raptors team. And while, admittedly, his offensive game has taken a bit of a dip in the last month or so, there’s no denying the impact the Spanish guard has had on the floor as the quarterback and primary distributor. We’ve seen Amir Johnson’s offensive game go to another level this year and DeMar DeRozan has been getting better over the course of the season as well; on a tear since the calendar flipped to 2011. There’s no doubt that Calderon plays a big part in the development of both of those young players’ games.

Calderon’s Assists by Month:

October/November 5.9
December 9.9
January 10.5
February 11.7

That 11.7 average in February puts him in an elite class of point guards this month as well.

Assists in February:

Steve Nash (PHX) 12.6
Deron Williams (NJ/UTH) 12.1
Jose Calderon (TOR) 11.7
Rajon Rondo (BOS) 10.5
Raymond Felton (DEN/NY) 9.3

Calderon is fifth in the NBA in assists-per-game this season and in spite of the fact that he’s averaging a career-high 2.19 turnovers per game, his assist-to-turnover ratio is still #1 in the league.

Many have dogged Calderon for his defence over the years as well, but it should be noted that he’s averaging a career-best 1.2 steals per game this season; 35th overall in the NBA ... ahead of other guards like Devin Harris, Chauncey Billups, Darren Collison and Jason Terry and even stars like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant (to name a few).

The Raptors will see one of the best of all time in that category (steals) tonight though when Jason Kidd and the Mavericks roll into town.

All-Time Steals

John Stockton 3,265
Michael Jordan 2,514
Gary Payton 2,445
Jason Kidd 2,440

Kidd leads Dallas into ACC this evening at 6:00 p.m. Paul Jones and I will have all of the action on Sportsnet Radio, The FAN 590 ... with the pregame show starting at 5:30 p.m.

Have a good one folks!

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst

  Nash Just Keeps On Rolling

Feb. 25, 2011, 2:40 PM

Steve Nash is in town with the Phoenix Suns tonight and that not only means that CANADA’s best baller of all time is in the house at ACC, but perhaps one of the greatest point guards of all-time –- from any country –- will be here as well.

Though Nash has yet to experience the thrill of winning a title, the BC boy has won two MVPs and is still –- as he ‘approaches’ 40 years old –- one of league’s elite at any position!

There’s probably NO chance that Nash will catch John Stockton on the NBA’s all-time ASSISTS list, but if he stays healthy (and he is in great shape; very committed to healthy eating and living) he MAY have a shot at chasing down the likes of Mark Jackson and Magic Johnson and cracking the Top 3. Have a look:

All-Time Assists

John Stockton 15,806
Jason Kidd 11,393
Mark Jackson 10,334
Magic Johnson 10,141
Oscar Robertson 9,887
Isiah Thomas 9,061
Steve Nash 8,996

This season, in spite of the fact that Amar'e Stoudemire is no longer his running mate in Phoenix (where he used to gobble-up the points via precision passes from Nash), the veteran point guard is still #1 in the league in TOTAL assists and #2 in the league in assists-per-game (his 11.3 average is the third-highest in his career).

Further to that, the career-year continues for Nash:

- 16.8 PPG: 38th in the league
- 3.6 REB: Second-best in his career
- 52.3% FG: Second-best in his career / 13th in the NBA this season
- 91.8% FT: Third-best in the NBA this season

In fact, that last stat (his FT shooting this season) has allowed Nash to stay atop the NBA’s all-time FT% list. Check it out:

1. Steve Nash 90.4%
2. Mark Price 90.3%
3. Rick Barry 89.9%

The Suns will need Nash at his best tonight –- putting up those kinds of numbers –- as Phoenix tips off a six-game road trip against the Raptors … sitting only two games out of the final playoff seed in the Western Conference.

Paul Jones and I will have all of the action at 7 p.m. tonight on Sportsnet Radio, The Fan 590.

Have a good one folks,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst

  Game Day Audio From Charlotte...

Feb. 22, 2011, 1:40 PM

The Raptors are getting set to face the Charlotte Bobcats this evening but the talk around town -- the talk around the NBA -- is about Carmelo Anthony and his deal from Denver to New York.

The Knicks have beefed themselves up for the short and long-term future and they've set up the potential for another 'super power' in the NBA ... similar to what we're seeing in Boston, Miami, LA, Orlando, and more.

So why not stay topical for today's piece ... and talk about 'Melo with 3 Raptors and one former Raptor ...

Click below to hear comments from Jay Triano, Julian Wright (Raptors Union Rep), DeMar DeRozan and Bobcats Assistant Coach, Charles Oakley ... as they all weigh-in on the blockbuster deal that was finalized last night.





Finally ... before I go ... let's take a quick look at the turn-around the Bobcats have had under Paul Silas -- since he took over for Larry Brown in Charlotte:

  Under Brown  Under Silas
 Record  9-19 15-13
PPG 91.8 95.8
Opp. PPG 97.6 95.6

Thanks! Have a good one,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst

ps- For more audio, including DeRozan on his experience at the All-Star weekend and how he thinks he got robbed (sorta) in the voting, visit my blog at Fan590.com

  A "B-Day" Edition Of The Tweet Spot...

Feb. 16, 2011, 1:30 PM

It’s B-Day in Toronto. Bosh Day. The return of Chris Bosh.

For the first time since CB4 (now CB1) signed with the Miami Heat, the one-time franchise player of the Raptors is back in T.O. in what may turn out to be the biggest sporting event this city will see in 2011.

Air Canada Centre is sure to be hoppin’ tonight as the fans will finally have a chance to weigh-in (good or bad) on Bosh’s decision to leave this team after 7 years.

I figured I’d get things started with the fans in today’s blog … with a JAMMED, all-Bosh edition of “The Tweet Spot” …

@Goddardd - Dear Chris hows does it feel to be the most hated person in TO today? Why did you lie to the people of TO about staying?

@Eric__Smith – To be fair, he didn’t say he WAS staying. He did say he loved the city though. He gave Toronto 7 years. But he did mishandle his exit.

@Daoud_S - What kind of influence did Bosh leave on the youth of Raps? We know he wanted to "lead by example" but sometimes a voice was needed.

@Eric__Smith – I think you answered your own question. That said, outside of Charles Oakley, has Toronto hasn’t had many voices / vocal leaders.

@dinonationblog - Bosh flushed his legacy down the toilet on Twitter and tonight is his judgement day it really is as simple as that.

@Eric__Smith – I don’t agree with the way he handled things either. I’ve said as much – to him directly. But I don’t know that it’s “flushed” … forever.

@Will__Murray - If he left minus the Twitter/media antics he gets a standing O? Seems no one blamed him for leaving, anger is at his attitude.

@Eric__Smith – Good point. Probably not a standing O … but I’d guess more respect and understanding.

@MMTheRook - On CB4: When a relationship ends, it's tough. But that doesn't discount the good times and memories you had. Those don't fade.

@Eric__Smith – Good approach and mentality.

@georgeTanv - I would love it if Bosh got complete silence when he gets introduced.

@Eric__Smith – I won’t lead the charge one way or another – boos or cheers. But sometimes silence does speak volumes.

@craigballard77 - Bosh and Wade announced they were signing with the Heat on ESPN Bosh referred to himself as a winner...how does he figure?

@Eric__Smith – I suppose “winners” aren’t always judged on WINS & LOSSES. In sports though, some say the true winners are only the ones with rings.

@wheeler_josh - Going forward (long-term), do you feel that the Toronto Raptors are better or worse without Chris Bosh?

@Eric__Smith – Great question … but impossible to answer. Now? Worse. Long-term? Depends on DeRozan, Davis, other moves, other signings, etc.

@adriwschang - In hindsight, I believe it will be better for the franchise to let Bosh walk to move in a new direction.

@Eric__Smith – Perhaps. The team missed the playoffs in 5 of his 7 years. The organization wears some of that, but Bosh does too.

@hahaVC - Tmac put it best years ago: They boo me cuz they love me. Boos aren’t always hate. I still have love for CB1. But as a raps fan, you have to boo

@Eric__Smith – I’m sure that sums up the feeling for a lot of folks.

@PatHanlon - In summer '09 he seemed to have bought into being in TO. After the ’10 All Star break he became disingenuous & less of the man he was for 6 yrs

@Eric__Smith – I think the ‘less of a man’ comment is a bit harsh. But disingenuous seems fair to an extent.

@DowanWhoDidIt - Do you think Bosh will show his true colors today?

@Eric__Smith – I don’t even know what that means. I’ve never thought of him as a bad person … just a guy that mishandled his exit from T.O.

@accfanto - Maybe we owe Bosh. His leaving may have moved MLSE to finally embrace the concept of proper (re)building.

@Eric__Smith – That may be true. That said, MLSE should have never “re-built” WITH Bosh. They tried to build around him. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.

@lennoxTT - I think the Miami big 3 should be known as the Miami big 2.5. Need I say who the .5 is?

@Eric__Smith – That’s not “fair” at all. He’s their only front court player, an All-Star, and averaging 18 and 8 still. He’s no stiff.

@Ronny006 - He played hard for this team for 7 years, doesn't matter how he left, but we can't forget the good things he did for this team

@Eric__Smith – I agree with about 95% of that statement

@markdsheldon – Is it me or has Chris Bosh not sent a tweet in 3 months? For all the "I don't regret anything" crap...that speaks volumes.

@Eric__Smith – He hasn’t Tweeted since mid-November (I checked). He told Sportsnet he doesn’t Tweet anymore. Why? I’m not sure.

@movewiththe_flo - Looking back & knowing who Bosh is now, should he have been more of a role player than being groomed to be a leader?

@Eric__Smith – I don’t believe a 20 and 10 guy and multi-time All Star is a role player. He may be Robin, not Batman … but he’s not a ‘role player’

@scottie_k - What is/was Bosh's reasoning behind losing all the bulk he gained over the past 2yrs as a Rap? Has his game changed that much?

@Eric__Smith – Your guess is as good as mine! I haven’t heard him address it much.

@itsMrAirCanada - My comment on Bosh: He did his best and tried hard for 6 years and like any athlete wants to win - he deserves respect

@Eric__Smith – I’m going to assume you meant 7 years (not 6) and not that you’re implying he checked-out for all of year 7

@SIMINDS - Bosh played hard as a Raptor. Let's show we’re better then them on the court with a Win. Pride dignity and Respect go a long way

@Eric__Smith – Good attitude

@DH_Alvarez - Bosh holds Raptors records for points and rebounds! Statistically the best career for any Rap All-time! Ovation 1st, then boo!

@Eric__Smith – Your stats can’t be argued but I don’t think it’ll play out that way.

Thanks for all of the contributions today folks! And remember … you can always follow me at www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith

Whether you’re AT the ACC this evening … or watching or listening from home/work … ENJOY the game!

Paul Jones and I will be on Sportsnet Radio, The FAN 590 starting at 7pm.

Win or lose … let’s just hope it’s a good game with a lot of drama and excitement.

Take care,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst

  Nine On The Ninth...

Feb. 9, 2011, 3:31 PM

1. As much as I might hate to admit it (because I don’t like what he’s “become” in the last six-12 months) it’s hard to deny that LeBron James is the league’s MVP thus far. Sure, he has some great talent around him in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but the individual performances he’s been turning in this season have been incredible. He walks into most buildings as Public Enemy #1 and almost always gets the last laugh.

2. If there’s one positive angle to take from Toronto’s rough ride this year, it’s the improved play of DeMar DeRozan and the added attention and accolades he’s finally receiving from the U.S. media. Being featured in the Rookie-Sophomore Game and the Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend in LA should only brighten the spotlight on him that much more.

3. Unless I’m missing something, I still haven’t seen any official word from the NBA regarding Blake Griffin’s obligations for the Rookie-Sophomore game. I can’t imagine the league would risk burning him out (or seeing him get hurt) by having him suit up in that game, the Slam Dunk Contest AND the All-Star game itself. If David Stern opts to have Griffin sit out the youngsters’ game, I wonder if Ed Davis has a shot at being named as the replacement. I figured he’d get in ahead of a guy like Greg Monroe in the first place.

4. I am SO glad I’m not covering the Denver Nuggets on a daily basis. Sure, there were always stories and rumors about Chris Bosh popping up last season –- like ‘Where is he going next season?’ and so on –- but the constant chatter and innuendo regarding Melo is beyond annoying at this point. There seems to be a different story every day with another bogus angle or tip. Can somebody just wake me when (if) he’s finally traded?

5. I’m still standing by it … the biggest All-Star SNUB: LaMarcus Aldridge.

6. Speaking of Carmelo Anthony, while he maybe can’t be blamed for the media overkill that’s surrounding him, he can be –- and should be –- held accountable for the way he’s conducting himself. While he hasn’t quit on the floor by any means, he’s annoyingly trying to have his cake and eat it too. Melo wants to play in New York and get a max extension but he’s seemingly not willing to wait for it. That’s not right. In the summertime, you can control anything and everything. But not now; not mid-season.

7. I hope Dwight Howard is keeping a close eye on what’s happening with Carmelo and company. He’s already hearing the rumblings in Orlando … with folks nervous that he’ll jump ship if the Magic don’t compete for an NBA Championship sooner than later. It can’t be ‘fun’ having to answer all of the questions over and over –- every market you go into –- even if you’re maybe partially responsible for helping to create the hysteria.

8. At least two head coaches in the NBA were once video coordinators. Frank Vogel and Erik Spoelstra. Thus, it goes to show you that in any walk of life -- in any job -- hard work and determination truly can pay off. As cheesy as it may sound, dreams do come true but sometimes you’ve gotta work for that dream; you can’t just sit back and wait for everything to fall into your lap.

9. The Cleveland Cavaliers may not be a very good team but I truly believe there is more talent on their roster than their 8-44 record indicates. I think this is a prime case of the psychological impact that ‘losing’ can have on a player and on a team. The losing weighs you down and beats you down and your confidence is ‘shot’ and your skills are potentially eroded.

Enjoy the Spurs and Raptors tonight folks!

Paul Jones and I will be on Sportsnet Radio, The FAN 590 at 7 p.m., with all the action!

Have a good one,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst

  Julian Wright On A Different Kind Of Roundball

Feb. 8, 2011, 1:31 PM

He played on-campus at Kansas ... honed his skills.

He travels with his own equipment -- ball, shoes.

His favourite movie is "Kingpin" and he wants to change his name to 'Munson' (okay, maybe not) ...

He is bowler extraordinaire, Julian Wright.

And I caught up with the alley-cat following his tour-de-force on the lanes in Milwaukee last night...


E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst

  Breaking Down The All-Star Picks

Feb. 4, 2011, 1:31 PM

The NBA announced its All-Star reserves last night and I was near perfect in MY selections/guesses ...

I went six-for-seven in the East and six-for-seven in the West as well. My ‘misses’ were LaMarcus Aldridge in the Western Conference (Tim Duncan got in) and Carlos Boozer in the Eastern Conference (Joe Johnson got the nod).

East All-Star Reserves

Ray Allen (BOS)
Chris Bosh (MIA)
Kevin Garnett (BOS)
Al Horford (ATL)
Joe Johnson (ATL)
Paul Pierce (BOS)
Rajon Rondo (BOS)

West All-Star Reserves

Tim Duncan (SA)
Manu Ginobili (SA)
Pau Gasol (LAL)
Blake Griffin (LAC)
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)
Russell Westbrook (OKC)
Deron Williams (UTH)

I don’t know that I can say anyone really got ‘snubbed’ in the East. Sure, I had Boozer and Johnson was the one that got in ... but I can’t argue JJ’s merits. He’s having a fantastic season and he’s the leading scorer on the fourth-seeded Hawks.

Raymond Felton? Andrew Bogut? Nahhh ... they’re both having solid years but they did not get snubbed. Those that made it DESERVED to be there ahead of both Felton and Bogut.

But I think there’s a different story in the West …

Aldridge should be on the team. With Brandon Roy sidelined and his career even in jeopardy, Aldridge has kept the Blazers afloat and in the post-season! Add to the mix the absences of Greg Oden and Marcus Camby as well and Aldridge’s accomplishments in the front court (let alone for the entire team) become ever MORE impressive! He got snubbed by the coaches and probably should have been there ahead of Duncan. Heck, Duncan could have been a perfect replacement for Yao Ming; a veteran player who is on the decline but still putting up quality numbers on the league’s top team. That sounds like a PERFECT appointment for the Commissioner. But David Stern will now have to select between Aldridge, Kevin Love, Monta Ellis, and Steve Nash.

I may be wrong, but I’m going to guess that with Williams and Westbrook already on the team, no guard will be taken by Stern. So that eliminates Nash and Ellis. Thus, it could very well come down to Aldridge and Love and the Commish may opt to put in the league’s leading rebounder (Love) instead. Time will tell.

NBA Rebound Leaders:
Kevin Love (MIN) - 15.5
Dwight Howard (ORL) - 13.6
Zach Randolph (MEM) - 13.2
Blake Griffin (LAC) - 12.7
Pau Gasol (LAL) - 10.5

Love is also ninth in the NBA in 3-point shooting … 16th in points per game and first overall in double-doubles (currently riding a streak of 34 in a row!)

Oh, and the day after missing the All Star cut, he has a chance to ‘take out his revenge and fury’ against the Raptors at ACC (7 p.m., on Sportsnet Radio, The FAN 590).


- - - - - - - - - -

Finally, we’ll end things today with a mini version of “The Tweet Spot” …

@mccracken1980 – Do you think the Raps need to fill the 3-spot with Kleiza out?

@Eric__Smith – This year … maybe not. Weems & Wright. Maybe even DeRozan a bit. But next year, depending on how long Kleiza is out, yes.

@alexthamexican - Is anyone untouchable on the Raptors?

@Eric__Smith – If Shaq can be traded … Kareem can be traded … heck, how many times was Gretzky traded? Nobody in pro sports should be totally untouchable.

@_Lenito – Would it be ideal to change the NBA All Star Game to the way the NHL did it to avoid the Yao situation?

@Eric__Smith – No. I think you can still give the fans a vote. Just don’t give them TOTAL control; only a percentage of the vote/power.

@Agridome - How many more years can we expect to be in the draft lottery, is at last 4 a reasonable assumption?

@Eric__Smith – Four MORE after this year? I sure as heck hope not. And I’d guess Bryan Colangelo would agree. There needs to be a turn-around / change much sooner.

@MassF - What do you think of BYU’s Jimmer Ferdette? Do you think he's an NBA player or too early to tell?

@Eric__Smith – It is too early to tell. But my initial gut reaction is that he’s good; can play at this level (as a pro) as a good role player – not a ‘star’. Maybe I’m wrong.

- - - - - - - - - -

Have a good one folks.

Remember, tune into Sportsnet Radio, The FAN 590 at 7pm tonight. Paul Jones and I will have all of the action between the Wolves and Raptors … plus post-game coverage ‘til 11 p.m., as well.

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst

  En Route To Atlanta On Game Day

Feb. 2, 2011, 10:51 AM

It has been a few days since I last checked in ... but it's for good reason ...

As you all know by now, the Raptors were stuck in Indianapolis for a few days due to the winter storm that's been blasting most of the U.S. and Canada.

But I wrote this piece on the plane from Indy to Atlanta - BlackBerry bloggin' at its finest.

It was a RARE game-day flight!

Anyway ... with the help of my man, Johnny Rusin (stat guru supreme) let's quickly crunch some numbers on a busy day in Georgia ...


While the weather was causing headaches for DeMar DeRozan and all of the Raptors (and me) yesterday, the second year guard got some good news when he found out that he'd be taking part in the Rookie/Sophomore game during All Star Weekend in Los Angeles.

This has got to be a pretty big honour for DD ... given that he wasn't on the Rookie squad last year (though he did participate in All-Star Weekend in the Slam Dunk Contest -- which he'll do again this year as well). And there's no doubt that his play this season -- especially over the past four-to-six weeks -- had a lot to do with this nod.

Sophomore Scoring in January:

Tyreke Evans (SAC) - 19.3 PPG
Stephen Curry (GS) - 19.3 PPG
Demar Derozan (TOR) - 18.5 PPG
Wesley Matthews (POR) - 16.9 PPG
Darren Collison (IND) - 15.2 PPG

DD was actually atop that list for most of the month but he struggled with his shot over the final two-to-three games of the month and fell down to #3 on the chart.

That said, DeRozan (and Matthews) have had the greatest increases in scoring when you compare their output during their rookie seasons versus what they're doing right now. Both players are up 6.8 points per game this year.

Philly's Jrue Holiday rounds out the Top 3 with a PPG increase of 6.2

Speaking of scoring, Jamal Crawford has been a thorn in the Raptors' side since stepping into the league. No matter what uniform he was/is wearing -- Chicago, NY, Golden State, and now Atlanta -- the Michigan man has always come up big against the Raps. Heck, the man owns a 50-point game on T.O.

Crawford's career vs Toronto:

Points - 15.6
Assists - 3.5
Rebounds - 3.0
FG% - 42.0
3fg% - 36.7

And since stepping into a Hawks jersey, his numbers have been even more impressive!

Crawford's Last 6 Games vs TOR:

Points - 22.5
FG% - 50.0
3PT FG% - 38.9
Assists - 2.2
Atlanta's Record - 5-1

Crawford leads the league in 'bench scoring' this season as well, averaging 15.9 PPG (maybe en route to his second straight Sixth Man of the Year award).


Paul Jones and I will be on Sportsnet Radio, The Fan 590 at 7pm tonight ... with the pre-game show. We'll have the tip off of the Raptors and Hawks just after 7:30 p.m.

Have a good one,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst